The Nineties and now

It can be argued that the nineties are having a comeback. To that I say – they never left. Well, they never left some of us – the ones who grew up in the nineties.

Fall begins and out they come; the chunky sweaters, slouchy boots and darker lipstick. Meticulously added highlights seem to fade away, replaced by an array of warm ambers and mochas on the heads all around us. The summer leaves and takes with it the breezy plea “to take the edge off” with a margarita or a Santa Margherita, as the all-day sun seems to fade away. We fold the edge back into the mix with a dark beer or a glass of red wine, ruffling our feathers with dark plums or navy splashes across our finger and toes – and these are just the Moms…

I would like to convince myself that I do this in homage to the time I spent growing up in New York City in the 90’s – but the only time I have spent in New York was as an adult and in an airport. My nineties were spent in suburbia in Florida – which lent itself to neither a gritty underground club scene nor any valid excuse for wearing Dr. Marten’s or a suede bomber jacket. Though I tried. My mom wasn’t buying it – literally or figuratively; the closest I could come to being Daria or Angela from My So-Called Life would be far, far off the mark.

I was caught in that suspended reality, torn between wanting to look just like the twenty-somethings in my Delia’s catalog yet unwilling to part with my yellow sunflower jumper or Far Side tee shirt. If only I could cast off what I liked in favor of what looked so cool on other people, I would find my place, I was sure of it.

I was thwarted at every attempt. Though I envisioned a slouchy-cool- crotched crop top, J. Byron’s selections allowed me to choose from two choices. The first was respectable length top with pastel flowers of raised embroidery haphazardly applied to the shoulders which mimicked exaggerated shoulder pads.

The second was actually crocheted, though in tight circles (not the near fishnet of my idols) in a color that could best be described as tea-stained. It also was not a crop top, though when I tried in on with my high-waisted ultra-light blue jeans it clocked in at mid top button, which was a close second. Upon closer inspection, I noticed embedded seed pearls running along the seams – because we all know that outlining the spine of such a top could only add to the street cred of the wearer. This selection was completely unacceptable. I should also add that I bought the first option.

You might have thought at this point that my fashionable ensemble was complete – I clearly had the jeans to pull off the shirt, but I needed one more thing. I needed a choker. Again, in my defense, I had pictured the perfect item. I bided my time; this was beyond the capabilities of a free standing department store that catered mostly to women in search of matching linen short suits. I needed something respectable like a large yin-yang medallion in all is paisley-amoeba glory. I needed the Boca Town Center mall.

Malls were the center of the universe for millennials in my adolescence. And by God did Town Center deliver. Remember how I recalled my youth in New York City? That was the theme of this mall -it felt cosmopolitan and classy, obviously a stark contrast to me. Bloomingdale’s was three stories tall and that is saying something.

What I took away on that shopping trip bared little to my mental image. A black velour ribbon slightly thicker than an inch was cinched on each end, not some inconsequential tab of Velcro, oh no, that would never do. On the ends of this dark, soft ticket to womanhood was a polished silver lobster clasp and extending chain, to accommodate my neck now and in the future, should I ever be struck with a goiter. But wait! There’s more.

In the center, presiding over the lands of misguided youths – those girls shopping at 5-7-9 and still wearing neon plastic pacifier necklaces (gag me), was a cameo of the faux-ivory varietal. She shone, in side profile, unable to bear witness to the antics of the peons below her perch. With her at my throat, clearly, I was one very sophisticated lady.

There is a small part of me that still looks longingly at Dr. Marten’s especially the classic black versions. Anytime I see Clair Danes in a new project or at an awards ceremony, I feel completely nostalgic. I keep a minimum of two ultra-dark lipsticks in my cosmetics case even now, though they aren’t Revlon’s “Coffee Bean” of my formative years.

The nineties keep coming back because its message prevails. Be yourself, even if you are a mess. Pair things together that don’t make sense, new ideas are born that way. Stay flexible and willing to make mistakes. Wear what makes you feel good. Write it down, in one of your five star notebooks, with a sharpie, then slip it into your Jansport and go about your day at Liberty High, just like Angela would.


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